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KLEIN, TX – “When you guys walked through that door, I felt so much excitement for my kids,” Epps Island Principal Latoya Wynne said. “They’re going to benefit from this so much. Our campus is focused on literacy and this is such a great, great thing for us.”
The Klein ISD Education Foundation (KEF) boarded the semi-annual Celebration Express bus to travel district-wide and award $73,505 to this semester’s winners of the educator grants. KEF has awarded grants to schools, teachers, and district staff every year for the past 14 years.
“Wow, wow, wow!!! What an amazing day of giving and celebration. While each Celebration Express is exciting, I think this day topped them all for me. The joy, excitement, laughter and silliness made it a day to remember,” Cindy Doyle, Director of Community Relations and Klein ISD Education Foundation said. “Thank you to the Klein ISD Education Foundation board of directors and our sponsors for your selfless dedication to raising funds to give back to the students and staff of the Klein ISD.”
The first stop on the Celebration Express route was Benignus Elementary for their “Full STEAM Ahead with Makerspaces” project sponsored by Aquilae Management.
The “Full STEAM Ahead with Makerspaces” grant allows students to visit their school library on “Makerspace Fridays” to take part in one of five Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) based learning stations. The stations which are made up of flexible furniture, 3D pens, circuit boards, Magformers and robots, will offer both individual students and groups with an interactive learning experience.
“Playaway Audiobooks” will allow literary specialists to target ELL (English Language Learners), disabled students and struggling readers with pre-loaded portable audio books, giving them greater access and a wider choice of reading material.
“We’ve given scholarships before to some of the Klein High School girls, but this is nice because the money is going to multiple kids, versus just one kid like we do with the scholarships,” said Elia Hatcher with Aaron’s, Inc. on the impact of donating to the “Playaway Audiobooks” program.
“Words Matter In Our Classrooms” will help implement a high-quality, systemic literacy program for first through fifth-grade students by using several sets of letters, magnetic boards, and syllable boards to manipulate words and spelling patterns in everyday reading and writing.
Celebration Express progressed to Ehrhardt Elementary, where the Klein ISD Health Services team was presented with a grant sponsored by Houston Northwest Medical Center for their “Spot On Vision Testing” initiative. The program uses a “Spot” Vision Screener, a handheld, portable device, to detect vision issues in people from 6 months into adulthood. Klein ISD Health Services teams will conduct state-mandated screening in children who have problems participating in standard vision procedures to detect vision problems early to benefit from intervention and special education assessments.
The fourth stop on the Celebration Express route was Klein ISD Police Department for their project, “Leadership Academy” sponsored by the American Association of Drilling Engineers. The Klein ISD Police Department will partner with school counselors to form student leadership groups composed of 20 students from 3rd-5th grade on several elementary school campuses. The groups will be guided by the “Handbook for Success” to encourage and open lines of communication between students, staff, and police officers.
Krahn Elementary was the next stop on the route where they were awarded for their project, the “Braille Bus” sponsored by Caropam Corporation.
The “Braille Bus” grant will offer visually impaired students with access to Braille books, and games and create an environment where all students are fully engaged. The mobility of the cart will allow students to play games and interact on an equal basis during literacy stations, reading time and social interactions. The “Braille Bus” project will also provide a completed design for other schools to implement to accommodate students across the district.
“W.O.R.L.D. will use mobile “Skype Stations” to establish interdisciplinary communication for students with other campuses around the world about project-based curriculum by participating in open-ended questions. Ulrich will also develop partnerships with corporations, authors, lecturers and scientists and other professionals to foster additional relevant curriculum.
“It just gives them the opportunity to see how everything they do in every single class translates to real world applications so that when they leave our class, they leave high school and they get into the real world to see how what they are doing is going to benefit them,” Jeffrey Bailey, Ulrich Intermediate Principal said.
Epps Island Elementary and their “Kinesthetic Reading Lab” sponsored by Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins & Mott, LLP, will influence the health and literacy development of 3rd through fifth-grade students by providing stationary bikes attached to desks, for students to ride while reading. The kinesthetic reading lab (KRL) will allow for students to have a minimum of 30 minutes of reading/biking time each week. The KRL’s will also be accessible for students before and after school through the School KRL Club. The lab will promote physical stamina and reading fluency in both individual and group scenarios.
“With this [grant] we are going to focus on building fluency with our kids, building their reading levels and building comprehension,” said Epps Island Principal Latoya Wynne. “It is going to be such a great tool for our kids and our parents.”
After Epps Island, the Celebration Express traveled to Klein Intermediate. Their program, “College and Career Readiness Through Technological Advances” sponsored by InvesTex Credit Union, will utilize Google Applications on iPads to help Gifted and Talented students create electronic, interactive notebooks for their Texas Performance Standards Project as well as additional research. Students who take part in the Path College and Career Readiness program will create portfolios for district projects and for PSAT preparation and practice. Students will also partner with Chevron to begin virtual college tours.
“We have technology natives that come out of the womb knowing technology,” Klein Intermediate Coach Jennifer Harper said. “We need to teach them the skills to be able to research through technology. The iPads will allow them to be mobile all around the school and open up other opportunities for our students.”
Since 2001, the Klein ISD Education Foundation has awarded more than $1.36 million in educator grants to teachers in the Klein ISD.
Teachers may apply for educator grants each semester. Grants are evaluated by KEF directors and district representatives. The number of grants awarded is determined by funds allocated by KEF each semester. Winners are then notified by a surprise visit from the Celebration Express bus that arrives at their campus.
For a complete list of winners and projects, visit the KEF grants web page at http://kleinisdeducationfoundation.com/educator-grants/.
To learn more about the Klein ISD Education Foundation, visit their website at http://kleinisd.net/KEF. Information can also be obtained by contacting Cindy Doyle, Education Foundation Director, at (832) 249-4753 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.